Biggest Obamacare Challenges In 2013

Here it is 2013 and it’s tax time again.

As a small business owner you are trying to keep your doors open in the Obama Economy and navagate through the many pitfalls of Obamacare.

Here is a helpfull article from BusinessInsider.com written by Abby Rogers.

The Biggest Obamacare Challenges To Watch Out For In 2013

Abby Rogers    | Jan. 4, 2013, 11:00 AM

obamacare-protest-1

obamacare protest

The Supreme Court upheld the heart of the Affordable Care Act in June in a 5-4 vote.

But even though the individual insurance mandate — the most controversial part of the law — was upheld, opponents still have plenty of problems with Obamacare.

The Affordable Care Act is so unpopular with some it has an entire website dedicated to all of the lawsuits against it.

Here’s a look at some of the big challenges you can expect to see making headlines this year:
Congress’ ability to enact such a law in the first place

In its lawsuit, the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation is arguing that if Obamacare is a tax, as the Supreme Court ruled it is, then it’s unconstitutional. Tax bills must start in the House, but Obamacare started in the Senate, the group points out.

“Especially after the election of 2012, PLF is now on the front line in defending the rights of Americans against Obamacare’s violations of core constitutional principles,” PLF Principal Attorney Paul J. Beard II said in a November statement on the group’s website. “Our commitment is strengthened, and our fight goes on.”

But, that fight might be short-lived, the National Law Journal’s Marcia Coyle told PBS Newshour.

“Some court scholars see this lawsuit as a long shot because courts in the past have given Congress a lot of deference with legislation passed in a similar fashion,” she told Newshour.
Religion

Obamacare mandates that insurers cover contraception, testing for some STDs, as well as well-woman visits, The Houston Chronicle reported in July.

Those mandates have spawned at least 42 challenges claiming Obamacare infringes on employers’ religious beliefs, Coyle told Newshour.

While religious institutions such as churches and some hospitals are exempt from the requirement, for-profit companies aren’t entitled to the same exemption.

“The Department of Health and Human Services issued an interim rule in August 2011 that exempted certain organizations with religious objections to contraception,” Coyle told PBS. “A number of religious colleges and other employers sued, claiming the contraception mandate violates their deeply held religious beliefs.”

The Supreme Court last month refused to grant an emergency appeal filed by one of those employers, Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts company with Christian owners.

However, Hobby Lobby and other companies with religious owners can continue pursuing their Obamacare challenges in the lower courts and ask the Supreme Court to hear the case at a later time.
The insurance exchanges

Under Obamacare, states are required to create “exchanges” so their citizens can buy subsidized health insurance on their own.

These exchanges have drawn the ire of quite a few states with conservative leaders, who have refused to implement the exchanges, The New Republic reported in November.

Anticipating this reluctance, Obamacare allows the federal government to step in and set up the exchanges itself for states that refuse to do so.

However, conservatives fighting Obamacare say the language of the law is a “little fuzzy” about whether the federal government can provide subsidies through those exchanges, TNR reported.

Back in September, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt filed a lawsuit fighting the Affordable Care Act, arguing the federal government would be exceeding its authority by trying to implement those subsidies, NPR reported at the time.

Lawyers for the U.S. government asked U.S. Eastern District Judge Ronald White last month to dismiss Pruitt’s lawsuit, saying the state presents only “abstract questions of political power.”

“Oklahoma’s reading of the Affordable Care Act presents only a ‘difference of opinion’ between the state and government, not a case or controversy,” the federal government’s motion to dismiss stated.

The Next Financial Collapse – Fraud Bubble

The Coming financial Collapse

Sorry to bring something so depressing, but this article explains something that all if us that follow these things have know for some time now.

Even though the article doesn’t specifically call out The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act 42 USC 18001, Public Law 111-148-Mar. 23, 2010 “PPACA” – – –

Better Know As “OBAMACARE”, we think you can see the connection.

The Biggest Bubble In History: Fraud

Wolf Rayet bubble large The Biggest Bubble In History: Fraud Bursting Gas Bubble 60 Light Years Across. Courtesy of ESA

Forget the Housing, Bond or Derivatives Bubbles … Fraud Is the Biggest Bubble of All Time

The housing bubble which burst in 2007 or so was the biggest bubble of all time.

Many argue that the bubble in U.S. bonds has surpassed the housing bubble as the largest ever.

Of course, given that the derivatives market is more than a thousand trillion dollars, and that is is backed by thousands of times less collateral, a good case can be made for arguing that derivatives are the biggest bubble.

But if you really think about it, the largest bubble in history is fraud, because it includes all of the above and more.

Specifically, the housing crisis was caused by fraud.  The government encouraged fraud, and helped cover it up.

Huge swaths of the derivatives market are manipulated by fraud.  See this, this, this and this. But instead of cracking down on the fraud, the government is backing it.

And the bubble in bonds was caused by super-low interest rates.  See this, this and this.

Low interest rates – in turn – are caused by the government’s zero interest rate policy and quantitative easing.

And how did the government sell these programs? By saying that they were necessary to help the economy and create more jobs.

But in reality, zero interest rate policy is just another stealth bailout for the big banks.  And quantitative easing only helps the super-elite … and hurt the economy and the little guy (Bernanke knew back in 1988 that QE doesn’t work for its advertised purposes.)

In other words, the government’s low interest rate policies were based upon a fundamental misrepresentation as to their purpose and probable effect.

Indeed, experts say that all bubbles are enabled by fraud.

But there are signs that the fraud bubble is collapsing.

Trust is falling to all-time lows as to many government and private institutions.  Why?  Because institutional corruption is so rampant that it is becoming obvious to everyone from Joe Sixpack to amateur and sophisticated professional investors.

While liberals tend to distrust big corporations and conservatives tend to distrust the federal government, we all agree that the malignant, symbiotic relationship between the two is the root problem.  Indeed, when government and corporatism merge, it is hard for anyone to trust what is going on.

When government officials are as corrupt as the criminal enterprises they are suppose to regulate, even the mainstream media can’t ignore it any longer.

And the people lose all trust in the system.

No matter how hard the boys work to cover up their ongoing misdeeds, the fraud bubble may finally be popping …

See examples of a popping fraud bubble here, here and here.

More IRS Scrutiny Of Independent Contractors?

IRS Coming For The Independent Contractors

 It is inevitable that the Feds (IRS) will start to zero in on the Independent Contractor in their desperation to raise more tax money.

While it may appear that the Feds have lightened up with VCSP, in fact our view is it’s a subtle way of pushing more business owners into reclassifying their independent contractors to employees.

Keep a close eye on this in congress and expect new regs in the near future.

Barbara Weltman’s Blog features a very informative article on the subject re posted below:

Worker Classification Continues to be on IRS Radar

It’s up to a company to decide whether to treat its workers as employees or independent contractors. The decision has wide-ranging tax consequences for the company.  For workers who are independent contractors, the company saves on payroll taxes (the employer share of FICA and unemployment tax), benefits (such as payments for health insurance and retirement plan contributions), and insurance (including workers’ compensation).

Expanded voluntary settlement program

You may recall that in September 2011, the IRS introduced a new program, called the Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP), to enable employees to reclassify their independent contractors as employees with reduced penalties and interest (only 10% of the employment tax liability otherwise due on compensation for the most recent tax year if workers had been classified as employees). The idea for the program was to encourage employers to reclassify workers by easing tax penalties.

Interested companies that had filed all required Forms 1099-MISC for their independent contractors could apply for participation in the VCSP. They had to agree to extend the statute of limitations (the period in which the IRS can start an audit) for three years after starting participation. Companies currently under any type of audit were barred from the program. (Q-and-As on the VCSP can be found here.)

Now the IRS has temporarily (until June 30, 2013) revised and liberalized the VCSP. Participation is allowed even if the company is under an income tax audit; it is only barred if under an employment tax audit. The company is not required to extend the statute of limitations.

Companies that failed to file required Form 1099-MISCs for their independent contractors can now apply to the program. However, they will be required to pay 25% (rather than 10%) of the employment tax liability that would have been due on compensation for the most recent tax year if workers had been classified as employees. They also owe a penalty, although reduced, for unfiled 1099s for the three previous tax years and will have to file such forms electronically for the previous three years for workers being reclassified.

Legislation proposed

Currently, the VCSP is not necessarily the best option for a company. As long as the employer has issued required Form 1099-MISC to its independent contractors and had a reasonable basis for this classification, it could rely on Section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978 to minimize or even avoid back employment taxes. This relief provision could be raised if and when the IRS challenged worker classification.

A bill in Congress, entitled the Independent Contractor Tax Fairness and Simplification Act of 2012 (H.R. 6653) would repeal Section 530 relief. Of course, the likelihood of passage before Congress adjourns is slim to none. But the idea could be renewed in the new Congress, so stay tuned.

Bottom line

If your company has been treating workers as independent contractors, talk your tax advisor to make sure you are properly classifying these workers. You can’t arbitrarily pin an independent contractor label on a worker who is really an employee because of the level of control exerted by the company over the worker.

If you have concerns about worker classification, discuss the VCSP and whether it makes sense to voluntarily reclassify some or all workers and pay the taxes before the IRS challenges your classification and embroils you in an audit.

Five New ObamaCare Taxes Coming January 1st

 Is Your Small Business Ready For ObamaCare?

Here we go – starting January 1st 2013 ObamaCare is kicking in, and kicking your small business in the behind.

Five New ObamaCare Taxes Coming January 1

Katie Pavlich   Katie Pavlich
News Editor, Townhall

Nov 28, 2012 07:49 AM EST

Although some of the “fiscal cliff” taxes can be avoided through a deal made in Congress, new ObamaCare taxes are guaranteed to kick in on January 1, amounting to $268 billion tax hike. From Americans for Tax Reform:

The Obamacare Medical Device Tax – a $20 billion tax increase:  Medical device manufacturers employ 409,000 people in 12,000 plants across the country. Obamacare imposes a new 2.3 percent excise tax on gross sales – even if the company does not earn a profit in a given year.  In addition to killing small business jobs and impacting research and development budgets, this will increase the cost of your health care – making everything from pacemakers to prosthetics more expensive.

The Obamacare “Special Needs Kids Tax” – a $13 billion tax increase:  The 30-35 million Americans who use a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) at work to pay for their family’s basic medical needs will face a new government cap of $2,500 (currently the accounts are unlimited under federal law, though employers are allowed to set a cap).

There is one group of FSA owners for whom this new cap will be particularly cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children.  There are several million families with special needs children in the United States, and many of them use FSAs to pay for special needs education. Tuition rates at one leading school that teaches special needs children in Washington, D.C. (National Child Research Center) can easily exceed $14,000 per year. Under tax rules, FSA dollars can be used to pay for this type of special needs education. This Obamacare tax provision will limit the options available to these families.

The Obamacare Surtax on Investment Income – a $123 billion tax increase:  This is a new, 3.8 percentage point surtax on investment income earned in households making at least $250,000 ($200,000 single).  This would result in the following top tax rates on investment income:

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The table above also incorporates the scheduled hike in the capital gains rate from 15 to 20 percent, and the scheduled hike in dividends rate from 15 to 39.6 percent.

The Obamacare “Haircut” for Medical Itemized Deductions – a $15.2 billion tax increase: Currently, those Americans facing high medical expenses are allowed a deduction to the extent that those expenses exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI).  This tax increase imposes a threshold of 10 percent of AGI. By limiting this deduction, Obamacare widens the net of taxable income for the sickest Americans.  This tax provision will most harm near retirees and those with modest incomes but high medical bills.

The Obamacare Medicare Payroll Tax Hike — an $86.8 billion tax increase:  The Medicare payroll tax is currently 2.9 percent on all wages and self-employment profits.  Under this tax hike, wages and profits exceeding $200,000 ($250,000 in the case of married couples) will face a 3.8 percent rate instead. This is a direct marginal income tax hike on small business owners, who are liable for self-employment tax in most cases. The table below compares current law vs. the Obamacare Medicare Payroll Tax Hike:

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Not only will these taxes hit people in the wallet, but they will also have a negative long term effect on employment and the medical device industry.

Not only does this tax increase costs on companies, it also increases costs on hospitals, doctors and people in need of medical treatment that requires medical devices to be used. As a consequence of this, biomedical or medical device engineering firms are already laying off workers who develop crucial medical products due to the “unforeseen” costs, or in other words, the costs of ObamaCare. Not to mention, the more money these companies pay to the government, the less money they have to invest in research and development.

With this new medical device tax, students who pay large sums of money to get degrees in the field of biomedical engineering, just like doctors, will no longer see the benefits of going into the field and therefore, we will have a shortage of engineers developing new medical device technology. The medical device tax is a death sentence for American medical innovation.

This is only the beginning, the entire ObamaCare legislation kicks on by 2014 with many more tax hikes to come.

Do You Understand Requirements Of Health Reform Law?

Requirements Of Health Reform Law

A large majority of small business owners (78 percent) said they did not know how health insurance exchanges could impact their business beginning in 2014.

Here is an excellent article from Wolters Kluwer Law & Business

Health Care Law at Wolterskluwerlb.com!

Most Small Businesses Do Not Understand Requirements Of Health Reform Law

November 13, 2012 By Wolters Kluwer Law & Business

The majority of small businesses either incorrectly believe or are not sure whether they must provide health insurance to employees in 2014, according to the Fall 2012 Small Employer Benefits Survey by eHealth, Inc., the parent company of eHealthInsurance.

Beginning in 2014, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires businesses with the equivalent of 50 or more full-time employees to provide health insurance coverage for their workers. However, businesses with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from this requirement, although employees may be required to purchase their own coverage.

Based on their size (fewer than 50 employees), only two of the businesses surveyed would be required by the ACA to offer health insurance coverage to employees in 2014. However, one-third (34 percent) incorrectly believed that they were required to buy insurance for employees in 2014, while 35 percent were not sure. Nearly 70 percent either incorrectly believed or were not sure whether they would be required to pay a tax for not providing health insurance in 2014. Only 31 percent of respondents correctly said that the reform law does not require them to a pay tax if they do not offer insurance.

Another part of the ACA not factoring into employers’ strategies is health insurance exchanges. A large majority of small business owners (78 percent) said they were not familiar with health insurance exchanges and how they could impact their business. Government-run exchanges, which are slated to come online by 2014, would make subsidized health insurance available to individuals who do not have access to health insurance through an employer.

The survey also explored employers’ willingness to adopt new cost-saving strategies, as well as their attitudes for imposing penalties related to employees’ participation in wellness programs. To reduce costs, more than half (51 percent) said they would increase employees’ share of premiums. Nearly 40 percent would consider increasing employees’ deductibles. Nearly half of the employers surveyed (44 percent) felt it would be fair to impose penalties on employees who do not participate in wellness programs.

Additional survey results. The survey also found:

• Eighty-three percent of small employers said they review their companies’ health plan benefits once a year.

• More than half of all small employers (59 percent) ask their employees for input when reviewing their company’s health insurance benefits, while 28 percent of employers said they never ask their employees for input.

• Sixty-eight percent of employers said they had no plans to drop coverage for employees in 2014, compared to only 3 percent who did plan to stop offering group health insurance coverage. Nearly a third (29 percent) of employers said they would consider dropping health coverage for employees in 2014.

• Sixty-one percent of small employers are most concerned about the cost and budgetary implications of the ACA.

• One-in-four (25 percent) said understanding the impact on their businesses was their biggest concern.

• The vast majority of small employers (77 percent) said that they were not doing any long-term planning based on their expectations of how health care reform might impact their business.

• A large majority of small business owners (78 percent) said they did not know how health insurance exchanges could impact their business beginning in 2014.

The survey was conducted anonymously online between Aug. 15 and Aug. 22, 2012, and gathered responses from a total of 439 small businesses that had purchased health insurance policies through eHealthInsurance.com. For more information, visit http://www.ehealthinsurance.com.

Obamacare Won’t Be Repealed – Now Up To States

 The Re-Election of President Obama brings a whole new outlook on Obamacare

Here is an article posted in The Christian Science Monitor, byline Brad Knickerbocker, Staff writer / November 10, 2012  

Brad Knickerbocker puts together a good summary of where things stand with ObamaCare post election.

Obamacare won’t be repealed. States now must act.

As House Speaker John Boehner said this week, the presidential election confirms that the Affordable Care Act ‘is the law of the land.’ But the fight over ‘Obamacare’ is not over as states decide whether to craft their own insurance exchange program or leave it to Washington.

By Brad Knickerbocker, Staff writer / November 10, 2012

Obamacare Rally

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act rally in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington in March as the court heard arguments on the health care law signed by President Barack Obama.

Charles Dharapak/AP

Mitt Romney declared many times during his campaign that he’d “repeal Obamacare on day one” of his presidency. But as House Speaker John Boehner said this week, “the election changes that.”

 

The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – “Obamacare,” as everyone now calls it – is designed to extend health coverage to more than 30 million uninsured Americans beginning in January 2014.

Under the law, states must decide whether to expand their Medicaid coverage for low-income Americans (to be paid for by the federal government) and also whether to form health care insurance exchanges – an online marketplace where individuals and small businesses can shop for health insurance, presumably in a more competitive environment.

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia are on track to set up their own exchanges, while nine have decided they will not, according to an Associated Press tally. The federal government could end up running the new health care insurance markets in half or more of the states.

Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the conservative advocacy group linked to the Koch brothers, is pushing governors to resist the law’s Medicaid expansion and state-based insurance exchanges, reports The Hill magazine.

“States can and do have the power to reject federal attempts to compel their action. Governors should use that power to tell the federal government no,” AFP state policy manager Nicole Kaeding said in a statement Friday. “By creating an exchange, states will serve as de-facto administrators of the federal government implementing its rules, regulations and mandates.”

BEYOND OBAMACARE: 5 opinions on health care reform

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) is typical of those refusing to cooperate with Obamacare.

“Kansans feel Obamacare is an overreach by Washington and have rejected the state’s participation in this federal program,” Gov. Brownback said in a statement after this week’s election. “My administration will not partner with the federal government to create a state-federal partnership insurance exchange because we will not benefit from it and implementing it could cost Kansas taxpayers millions of dollars.”

On Friday, a group rallying at the statehouse in Topeka urged Brownback to accept the federal expansion of Medicaid, something he has yet to decide.

In Missouri, meanwhile, Gov. Jay Nixon (D) would prefer to have a state-run insurance exchange but is prevented from submitting a plan to the US Department of Health and Human Services by next week’s deadline unless he gets legislative approval. Missouri voters this week approved a ballot measure prohibiting the governor from establishing an exchange unless it is specifically authorized by the state legislature or public referendum.

“The only option for Missouri at this time is to indicate that we will be unable to proceed with a state-based exchange absent a change in circumstances,” Gov. Nixon said at a news conference. But he added: “Let me be clear that a federally facilitated exchange is not the ideal approach. Regulating the insurance market is a power best left in the hands of the states.”

n Virginia, Gov. Bob McDonnell (who chairs the Republican Governors Association), will default to a federal exchange with the understanding that the state could change course later, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“I don’t want to buy a pig in a poke for the taxpayers of Virginia,” Gov. McDonnell said at a postelection news briefing. “At this point, without further information, the only logical decision for us is to use the federal option.”

In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker Republican and leaders in the state Legislature “are now scrambling to figure out their next move,” reports the AP from Madison.

Gov. Walker had held off planning for a state-run insurance exchange – first until the US Supreme Court took up Obamacare (which the court mostly upheld) and then until the presidential election. Walker also rejected $38 million in federal money that could have gone toward paying for implementing the law.

Not only did Walker’s Plan B fail when Mitt Romney lost the election. US Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) beat former governor Tommy Thompson in the race to replace retiring US Senator Herb Kohl, helping strengthen Democrats’ hand in the upper chamber.

After the election, Walker downplayed the urgency of the situation, saying no matter what the state does the federal government won’t review it for months, according to the AP. Walker has said he doesn’t think it would be a problem for the state to get an extension.

“Even after notifying them, we have until next fall to make modifications as we see fit,” Walker said. “We haven’t made a decision yet.”

Recharged by the election of Rep. Baldwin to the Senate and the re-election of President Obama, health care activists in Wisconsin are pushing Walker to get on with the state’s health insurance exchange.

“Now that the election is over and the Affordable Care Act will be implemented, it is time for the Walker Administration to stop playing political games with the health of Wisconsin’s citizens,” said Robert Kraig, executive director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin, in a statement. “The new health insurance exchanges, along with the expansion of Medicaid, will guarantee for the first time that everyone can control their own health care decisions and will have the peace of mind of knowing that there is a place to go, no matter what, to get quality affordable coverage.”

So at this point, governors have only two choices: Devise an insurance exchange for their states or leave it up to Washington to do it for them.

“It’s pretty clear that the president was reelected,” Mr. Boehner told ABC News. “Obamacare is the law of the land.”

Later, a spokesman tried to walk that back.

“While Obamacare is the law of the land, it is costing us jobs and threatening our health care,” said Boehner’s communications director. “Speaker Boehner and House Republicans remain committed to repealing the law…”

With a Democratic Senate and Obama himself in the White House for another four years, that seems more wishful thinking than anything else.

 

Obamacare Individual Mandate IRS Tax Form

Please read this article before you vote !!!!

If you’ve been taking in an unhealthy dose of propaganda from the Obama Administration regarding the benefits of Obamacare, you may need a shocking wake up call.

The IRS Tax Form for Obamacare Individual Mandate

Our projected IRS form will assists 140 million Americans in their obligation to disclose personal identifying health information and calculate IRS tax penalty.

As a service to the public, Americans for Tax Reform has released a projected tax form to help families and tax specialists prepare for the additional filing requirement required by the Affordable Healthcare Act’s individual mandate.

Starting in 2014, all Americans who file income tax returns must complete an additional IRS tax form. The new form requires disclosure of a taxpayer’s personal identifying health information in order to determine compliance with the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.  As confirmed by IRS testimony to the tax-writing House Committee on Ways and Means, “taxpayers will file their tax returns reporting their health insurance coverage, and/or making a payment”.

You may download a PDF file of form here or view it below.

Highlights from the Obamacare Individual Mandate Tax Compliance Form:

 

1.  Determination of “qualifying” health insurance.  Under the Affordable Care Act,  most Americans must purchase health insurance deemed “qualified” by the Department of Health and Human Services  (HHS) starting in 2014.  Failure to comply with this mandate results in a tax penalty which must be paid to the IRS. The tax penalty ranges from $695 to $2085, or more, depending on the size of a family.  The dollar amount grows over time and is tabulated on the form. Taxpayers must demonstrate that they obtained qualifying health insurance for each month of the year in order to avoid payment of this tax penalty. [See lines 12-13]

2.  Disclosure of personal identifying health information.  Every family that files a tax return (140 million households) will have to disclose whether or not they were covered by a qualifying plan, in which months they were covered, and what type of coverage they received.  Tax filers must also divulge and disclose their personal health ID number, the nature of their health insurance, and other information from their health insurance card as further IRS regulations warrant.  [See lines 3-4]

3.  Exemptions from Individual Mandate: Prisoners, Undocumented Immigrants, Welfare Recipients. The form also determines which individuals are exempt from the Individual Mandate and non-compliance taxes. Classes of individuals who are exempt from the mandate include but are not limited to: those serving sentences in the federal penitentiary system; those persons not legally able to work in the U.S.; welfare recipients; and those qualifying for an HHS-granted religious exemption.  [See lines 8-11]

4.  IRS penalties and interest on unpaid mandate taxes.  Because the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate penalty is a tax, the IRS will be able to assess interest and non-criminal penalties on those families who will not or cannot pay the tax. The IRS will issue regular, periodic correspondence audits to these families to help them comply with their filing responsibilities.

Here is the link to the PDF to the IRS Individual Mandate for Obamacare

Read more: http://atr.org/irs-tax-form-obamacare-individual-mandate-a7274#ixzz2Amo4OmOa

 

Small Business Not Excited About Obamacare Tax Credit

We can’t believe we’re actually re-posting an article from the Huffington Post, a left wing blog site that should be pro Obamacare – But this article written by Catherine New seems to be mostly unbiased and quite informative.

Obamacare Small Business Tax Credit For Health Care: Companies Uninterested, Despite IRS Efforts

The Huffington Post  |  By Catherine New Posted: 10/11/2012 6:11 pm

Small Biz Health Care Tax Credit

If the IRS wants to say the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit is a total fail, it has a funny way of saying it.

Last spring, the IRS went on a PR blitz to promote the tax credit, reaching out to employers with a YouTube video, Q&As, informational flyers and more. And in September, the IRS testified before Congress that the agency had taken every step possible to promote the Obamacare health care tax credit to small business employers.

But according to the conservative tax policy group Americans for Tax Reform, those actions are actually the agency’s veiled way of passing the buck. In a recent op-ed in the conservative publication Heartlander, the tax group blasted the IRS’ testimony, saying, “In Washington, D.C.-speak, that can be summed up rather succinctly: ‘When this fails, don’t blame us.’”

It’s true that the tax credit has failed to attract many takers. It is estimated that between 1.4 million and 4 million small businesses are eligible, but last May the Government Accountability Office reported that only 170,300 firms actually claimed the credit in 2010, according to The New York Times.

Between 2010 and 2013, the credit allows eligible companies to collect a refund of 35 percent of health insurance expenses. After 2014, that tax credit jumps to 50 percent. The 50 percent credit can be used for any two consecutive years, The New York Times reported.

But all things considered, those tax savings won’t add up to much for small businesses, according to a new report released this week from the policy think tank Urban Institute. The report showed that for small businesses with fewer than 100 employees, Obamacare rules save them a whopping 1.4 percent in employer costs when the regulations are fully implemented.

While any savings are savings, applying for the credit may be too much of a headache for small businesses to undertake for such a small gain. The GAO found in its report earlier this year that applying for the credit could take between six and eight hours of tax prep time.

So what’s the lesson here? It’s not that small business owners have mixed feelings about Obamacare (we knew that already).

The lesson of this story is that time is money. Small business’ lackluster response suggests eight hours of work just isn’t worth the meager cost savings. In the case of the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit, the GAO suggested that the credit was simply not a large enough incentive for small business owners to reach out for the tax relief.

Your Life Under ObamaCare

A Dreary Look Into The Future With ObamaCare

Dr. Marc Siegel who is a Sunday Morning regular on Fox News has written an excellent article which gives a dreary future vision of what life will be like under ObamaCare.

This is your life under ObamaCare

By Dr. Marc Siegel

Published July 03, 2012

FoxNews.com

Obama Health Care_Pata.jpg

Like all practicing physicians (and medical correspondents), I was glued to the news last Thursday morning at 10 am ET when the US Supreme Court via some questionable fancy legal footwork allowed ObamaCare to survive. Like many of my medical brethren, I was deeply disappointed by the outcome.

But ultimately I am not concerned about America’s doctors; we will survive even if our paperwork continues to pile up, our income continues to decline, and our waiting rooms overflow well beyond capacity. We may feel like quitting but most of us will soldier on, continuing to work even as the new Affordable Care Act committees regulate and restrict us to the point of impotence.

Most of us have no choice; we are super-specialized and we don’t know how to do much of anything else.

We will survive, but what about you, America’s patients?

I am worried that the more than 250 million of you who already have health insurance will see the quality of care you receive diminish greatly. Doctors will weather the storm of ObamaCare even if we have to see a patient every five minutes and spend most of our time seeking test and treatment approvals, but what about you? How will you feel when you hear about a brand new cure only to find out that your insurance won’t cover it?

You, the patient, will have to get used to less access to real health care solutions, fewer approvals for the very latest, personalized, genetic-based cancer treatment or surgical technology that could save your life.

One of the reasons your doctor isn’t happy is because under ObamaCare he or she will bear the brunt of explaining how come your ever rising premiums are buying you less than they did before.

Gone will be the ability to pay out of pocket and receive a tax break for higher quality care. Flexible Spending Accounts will shrink to a maximum of $2,500 and you will only be able to deduct a medical expense from your taxes if it exceeds a whopping 10 percent of your gross income for the year.

With fewer cash payments, lower fees, and more red tape, no wonder your doctor isn’t happy. Recent surveys by Deloitte, sermo.com, and most recently Jackson Health Care reveal that a majority of doctors believe the Affordable Care Act will have a negative impact on their practices. Earlier this month the Doctor Patient Medical Association released a survey of doctors that showed that 90% believe that the health care system is on the wrong track.

Don’t get me wrong, covering you regardless of pre-existing condition with no possibility of your insurance dropping you when you are sick and no co-pay for preventive services are attractive features of ObamaCare.  But these expensive features have to be paid for with a “rob Peter to pay Paul” concept that comprehensive insurance is famous for.

You see, the ACA mandates the kind of expensive insurance that allows you to go to the doctor too easily; if insurance pays for people when they just want reassurance for a palpitation or an upper respiratory infection, it won’t have enough left to pay for expensive state-of-the-art treatment when a person is very ill.

Over the last few years I have diagnosed three cases of curable lung cancer using a screening Chest CT that I fear an Independent Medicare Advisory Board (created by ObamaCare) will deny in the future. I have also witnessed two patients waking from comas and walking out of the hospital long after ObamaCare’s new committees would likely recommend that their breathing tubes be pulled. I am concerned that ObamaCare rulings from on high will interfere with the art of medicine down here in the trenches.

It is one thing to provide a catastrophic insurance for everyone in case they end up in an emergency room, it is quite another to mandate the kind of insurance that restricts some services while blanketly approving others.

ObamaCare will cause your premiums to soar. ObamaCare promises to increase your access to health care but it may actually decrease it because your doctor will no longer have as much time for you. The growing numbers of insured will have difficulty finding a doctor. The current doctor shortage will be compounded by all the doctors who restrict the insurances they accept, beginning with Medicaid and Medicare.

Many physicians chose medicine, in the first place, because of the old-fashioned joy of taking care of people. I am afraid that joy is now in jeopardy.

My patients are asking me the same question that patients all over the country are asking their doctors this week. “What do we do now?” Unfortunately, my answer, “I will be there for you no matter what,” may not apply to all doctors.

Dr Marc Siegel

Dr Marc Siegel

Marc Siegel MD is an associate professor of medicine and medical director of Doctor Radio at NYU Langone Medical Center. He is a member of the Fox News Medical A Team and author of The Inner Pulse: Unlocking the Secret Code of Sickness and Health.

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Some Problems With ObamaCare

5 Things About ObamaCare That Will Give You Heartburn

We have re posted a great article from Barbara’s Blog written by Barbara Weltman which covers 5 things about ObamaCare that will give you heartburn.

5 Things That Trouble Me about Obamacare

So the U.S. Supreme Court says Obamacare is constitutional. What does this mean for you and your business?

Here are 5 results of this court decision that are problematic to me.

1. The IRS governs health care?

Apparently so, according to the Supreme Court’s ruling that the individual mandate is constitutional. The rationale for upholding the mandate: the penalty that individuals will have to pay if they don’t have required medical coverage starting in 2014 is merely a tax. And who’s going to collect the tax? The IRS!

While the law prevents any criminal action for those who won’t pay the penalty, who knows how enforcement by the IRS will be actualized. Will the IRS ultimately be able to say what medical treatments will be covered by insurance?

2. There’s a loss of privacy for your tax return

Currently, your personal and business tax returns are subject to strict privacy rules. If IRS employees divulge any information, there are serious consequences. Now, under Obamacare, the IRS must tell the “Health Choices Commissioner” and state health programs about taxpayers, including their filing status, modified adjusted gross income, the number of dependents, and “other information as prescribed by” regulations (Secs. 431(a) and 245(b)(2)(A)) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) (purportedly to verify new tax credits for those who cannot afford to pay health premiums). Also, the Social Security Administration can obtain from the IRS tax data on anyone who may be eligible for the low-income drug subsidy under Obamacare (Sec. 1801(a) of the Act). In sum, tax information is no longer confined to the IRS; it will be shared with certain other government agencies.

In this environment of increasing identity theft, there has to be concern about more eyes on a tax return.

3. Health care premium costs are not coming down anytime soon

The theory about the personal mandate lowering costs, if I have it correct, is that with more people being brought into the insurance pool, premiums will fall. I haven’t seen any indication of that yet. Of course, the mandate is not set to take effect until 2014, so for now the premiums for self-employed individuals and small businesses are continuing to increase.

4. There are increased tax burdens on many small business owners

Earn $200,000 in salary from your business or self-employment activities as a single person and you will pay an additional 0.9% Medicare tax starting in 2013. (The threshold for the tax for married persons filing jointly is $250,000, or $125,000 for those filing separately.) This tax is on top of the basic Medicare tax of 1.45% (or 2.9% if you’re self-employed) that you already pay, and it’s not deductible.

If you do your payroll in-house, you’ll probably have to start soon to get ready to withhold the additional Medicare tax for employees with wages over the threshold amount.

5. There’s still uncertainty

While the legal challenge to Obamacare is settled, the political challenge has just begun. If there are significant changes resulting from the November election, Obamacare may be repealed with the expectation of replacing it with another health care law. Whether there will be such a political shift, and if so, what, when, and if such new law is enacted, leaves us with uncertainty about tax-related provisions. Are current tax rules to be changed? Will good provisions in Obamacare that have already taken effect, such as coverage for a child up to age 26 on a parent’s medical plan, be retained?

Bottom line

What’s that adage about good intentions and some road? There has to be a better way to bring the cost of medical coverage down and make it available to those who are presently uninsured.

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